India vs Zimbabwe 1st ODI preview: all eyes on skipper Rahul ahead of series opener


Skipper KL Rahul’s form and condition will be closely watched as India takes on Zimbabwe in a series of three matches, starting Thursday, in a 50-over format, which is rapidly losing popularity and struggling to establish its identity. to keep. Rahul is believed to be one of the most vital cogs in the Indian T20 World Cup top order and wants to make the most of the playing time he gets as an opener during the three matches against Regis Chakabva.

Rahul’s immediate task after a two-month hiatus undergoing hernia surgery is to maintain his opening position in T20 cricket and adapt to the team’s philosophy of going hell for leather from ball one.

It’s not just about runs that skipper Rohit Sharma or coach Rahul Dravid would look at when watching Rahul’s performance in Zimbabwe.

They would rather watch his approach and the way he scores points, something he would have to adjust for that first Asian Cup game against Pakistan on August 28.

On the batting belters of the Harare Sports Club where Zimbabwe chased Bangladesh’s 300 plus and 290 goals in consecutive matches in the recently concluded series, the Indian batting lineup with Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda and Sanju Samson will certainly turn out to be more than a handful for hosts.

And unlike Bangladesh, a bowling attack consisting of Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna, Deepak Chahar, Kuldeep Yadav along with all-rounders Shardul Thakur and Axar Patel has more potential against this Zimbabwe lineup under any circumstances.

For Zimbabwe, the goal would be to become the proverbial banana peel for Rahul and his men to slip into, as a serial win for ‘Men in Blue’ would earn them hardly any praise, but a defeat would elicit sharp criticism.

The hosts therefore wouldn’t mind if players like Sikandar Raza, Chakabva and Innocent Kaia repeat their batting performances from the encounters with Bangladesh and show the world that the previous win in the series was not just a flash in the pan.

Goals of the series

Gone are the days of Flower Brothers (Andy and Grant), Heath Streaks (now infected and suspended), Neil Johnsons, Murray Goodwins and Henry Olongas. It was a side that could take the Mickey out of the opposition on good days.

Cricket in Zimbabwe, like the country itself, has been through a lot of turmoil over the past two decades and its quality has been seriously compromised.

Someone like 36-year-old Raza, 34-year-old skipper Chakabva or 34-year-old Donald Tiripano are genuine performers, but would not make any opponent feel threatened.

India’s tours of Zimbabwe are normally a kind of ‘big brother’ gift to help a ‘younger’ gain financial stability.

Revenues from TV and digital rights from three games in India will cover more than half of Zimbabwe’s costs this year.

This therefore provides BCCI with a gesture of goodwill.

As for the cricketing part, this gives selectors a chance to look at the strength of the bench and also note some names, which will be in the bigger picture for the 2023 50-over World Cup.

At present, Indian cricket possesses such a quality that it can field three white ball teams on three different continents at once.

This is such a glorified ‘A’ series as many of the members will play in the home A series later this year against New Zealand and Australia.

Chahar and Kuldeep

Two bowlers who would give their all are Deepak Chahar, who is back in the mix after six months, and Kuldeep Yadav, who is slowly getting his mojo back.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar has consolidated his place in the T20 lineup, but Chahar is eager to impress with his swing bowling in Powerplay overs and ability to take big shots in the death overs. He is already on the reserve list for the Asian Cup.

Another player who would want a debut would be Maharashtra man Rahul Tripathi, a consistent IPL performer and perhaps someone who could sometimes use VVS Laxman in the mid-range at the expense of Shardul Thakur.

All in all, a 3-0 clean sweep is the order of the day and any distraction would be considered a substandard effort.

Squads: India: KL Rahul (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan (Vice Captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Sanju Samson (wicketkeeper), Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel , Avesh Khan, Prasidh Krishna, Mohd Siraj, Deepak Chahar, Shahbaz Ahmed.

Zimbabwe: Regis Chakabva (Captain), Ryan Burl, Tanaka Chivanga, Bradley Evans, Luke Jongwe, Innocent Kaia, Takudzwanashe Kaitano, Clive Madande, Wessly Madhevere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, John Masara, Tony Munyonga, Richard Ngarava, Victor Nyauchi, Sikandar Ra Milton Shumba, Donald Tiripano.

Match starts: 12:45 PM IST.

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